News24

UN issues DRC warning

2010-06-05 10:01

Geneva - The United Nations warned on Friday that a "catastrophic" shortfall in aid for the Democratic Republic of Congo could cut off vital health and food assistance for hundreds of thousands of people.

Only two to six percent of the funds earmarked for aid in those areas has come through as international donors have provided $249m of the $828m the UN has appealed for this year, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator's office (OCHA) said.

"If it continues at this rhythm we might barely cover 60% of the finance necessary for humanitarian programmes, which means it's really catastrophic," OCHA spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told journalists.

"If the money doesn't come through the consequences will be enormous, especially in key areas," she added.

Children will suffer

The current funding gaps would deprive 200 000 children suffering from severe malnutrition of aid, stop vaccinations for 180 000 infants and cut education for 90 000 more, according to OCHA.

Some 300 000 to 400 000 people would not receive planned aid for water and sanitation, refugees and displaced people would miss out on aid while and estimated 10 000 victims of sexual assaults would not be assisted, it added.

"Just on health and nutrition, the consequences would be catastrophic and many children could die if these programmes are not funded, it's vital, it's a matter of survival," said Byrs.

The conflict-ridden east of the country is highly dependent on international aid.

Although ranked among the world's poorest countries, the DRC, with a population of 68 million, is blessed with a wealth of prized natural resources and mines, including copper, cobalt, gold, coltan, tin and zinc.